Ad fraud has been a black cloud looming over the industry, with perpetrators finding myriad ways to hijack the display advertising ecosystem. To bolster its resources in the fight against internet advertising fraud, Google announced today it has acquired the well-regarded web traffic analytics firm spider.io.
Google has made significant investments in fighting ad fraud. The company says it blocked over 350 million bad ads from more than 270 thousand bad advertisers in 2013. While the number of bad ads that were blocked was up 59 percent from the prior year, the number of bad advertisers fell significantly from 850 thousand. Mike Hochberg, Director, Ads Engineering said of the decline at the time, “In part, we attribute this decline to scammers — counterfeiters, for example — being thwarted by our safety screens and searching for less-secure targets.”
“Our immediate priority is to include their fraud detection technology in our video and display ads products, where they will complement our existing efforts,” wrote Neal Mohan, VP of Display Advertising at Google wrote of the acquisition “Over the long term, our goal is to improve the metrics that advertisers and publishers use to determine the value of digital media and give all parties a clearer, cleaner picture of what campaigns and media are truly delivering strong results. Also, by including spider.io’s fraud fighting expertise in our products, we can scale our efforts to weed out bad actors and improve the entire digital ecosystem.”
Google’s viewable impression measurement tool, Active View, received Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation in April 2013. Spider.io recieived MRC accredition for its own viewable impression measurement tool in May of last year. The spider.io tool is unique in that it can measure the viewability of individual display ad impressions in any iFrame environment and regardless of iFrame nesting across all major desktop browsers. This is likely one of the areas where spider.io’s technology will help Google improve ad metrics and further its move toward making viewable impressions the standard.
The IAB’s Traffic of Good Intent task force was established to take on ad fraud at the industry level. In September 2013, then head of spider.io Douglas de Jager offered up his own feedback on the IAB’s efforts to address the “systemic failures” afflicting the of display advertising industry. Now as an employee of Google, the dominant player in display advertising, he stands to have a bigger impact on shaping the way the industry as a whole fights fraudulent ad traffic.